Jakarta. Tourism activities in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara, had returned to normal in the past two days, a high-ranking official said Thursday, after local businesses decided to end their strike in protest against a new government policy to hike entrance fees into the Komodo National Park.
"Thank God, after the two-day [protest], we have started to return to business for Labuan Bajo is ready to serve again," Shana Fatina, the director of the Implementing Agency for the Labuan Bajo Flores Authority (BPOLBF), told BeritaSatu TV.
Shana said tourists arriving at Labuan Bajo's Komodo International Airport are picked up by travel agencies or rental car service providers today. Two days ago, some tourists had to hitchhike on the back of pick-up trucks operated by the local government as the agencies or rental car operators went on strike.
Shana said the strike had forced the government to reconsider its approach to implementing the policy in Labuan Bajo, which hosts several G20 events or excursions this year.
"Because of an incident like this, the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy take steps to open a dialogue with all tourism business stakeholders," Shana said,
"What are their aspirations, and what do they look like because it cannot only be seen from the eyes of conservation alone. How local businesses can facilitate sustainable tourism in this conservation area," she said.
Hospitality business operators went on a strike on Monday after the government hiked entrance fees and imposed a quota for tourists visiting Komodo and Padar islands in the Komodo National Park.
The operators argued the new fees — Rp 3.75 million per year, or 25 times more expensive than the old ones — would crush the tourists' interest in visiting Labuan Bajo.
"We accept that there is an increase in entrance fees prices, but the increase is very steep," Michele Barilari, a representative for Italian tour operators, told Beritasatu on Monday. "I'm not sure the guests from Italy will want to go to Labuan Bajo."
The business operators reached an agreement with the government on Wednesday and ended their strike after the former reinstated the old fees of Rp 150.000 per person.
BPOLBF's Shana said tourists who book tickets until December 2022 only need to pay the old fees for entering Komodo National Park.
She said the policy regarding the entrance fees would fall under the authorities of the East Nusa Tenggara and the Ministry of Forestry and Environment, which supervises national parks. Shana said that the two institutions had stricken a deal for the Komodo National Park.
BPOLBF, on the other hand, is responsible for formulating strategy, coordinating, and issuing permits for tourism developments in Labuan Bajo and Flores. The agency answers directly to the President of Indonesia.